It is not as simple as claimed by the online providers who represent names. And yes, genealogy is a big business. Twenty dollars a month and you have unlimited access to millions of names – all you must do is assign them. And if I were a descendant of immigrants in a multi-ethnic country, it would be important for me to know where I come from, who my ancestors were and how they came to the country I live in. This is not as easy in North America, the USA and Canada as many “fast solution offers” would have you believe.
It’s about your name, which is necessarily correct and without doubt the identity of your ancestors. Well, one could argue that this is not a problem – a dozen of online providers offer you “Ancestry” for a mostly two-digit monthly fee. But what they offer are names but not Ancestry.
Printed offers also help you only to a limited extent. The updated and overpriced 450 Dollar offer, the “Dictionary of American Family Names”, (DAFN), published by Oxford University Press, edited by Patrick Hanks, also does not meet the requirements for an unequivocal genealogical reseach. This 3-volume work lists 70,000 American surnames and refers to the origin of the name as well as its ethnic affiliation.
Professor Marc Picard from the Concordia University, Montreal revised the DAFN in his book “ “On the Problematic Surnames in the Dictionary of American Family Names: A genealogically based Reanalysis of the unidentified and uncertain Origins”
He found 1300 names listed as “origin uncertain” or “origin unidentified” and concludes that this Oxford University Press publication did not took care to the fact that the largely traditional methods of onomastic research that were utilized in this work, are insufficient to pierce through the radical “Americanization” of so many foreign surnames.
Here an examples:
In Volume 1 the Name Dellwois listed as “unidentified”. I do not know how Professor Picard listed this name, but the latest version of the German Telephone Guide lists 48 Dellwo in Germany.